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Freaking out over a spot on my lung


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Last week I had a CT scan to see if I have a hernia. I got a call with the results and my anxiety has been in overdrive.

The hernia isn't what is worrying me, but something else. The CT scan revealed a small nodule on my lung. Now I'm terrified that I have lung cancer.

I did a lot of research on nodules and based on my nonsmoking status and age, the chances that it is cancer are very slim. Less than 1%, I even read.

But despite that, I just have a bad feeling that I do have lung cancer. Maybe it's from secondhand smoke (my dad smoked heavily when I was growing up). Maybe it's from radiation from my cell phone (the nodule is on the same side as I keep my phone in my jacket pocket). I am already having awful thoughts that this has been my last Christmas, picturing my funeral, etc.

I do have it in my family history - my grandfather died from lung cancer (he was a heavy smoker).

They want to follow up and do another scan in 6 months to see if the nodule has grown. I'm going to be so anxious about this the next 6 months :(

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Have you talked to your pdoc and your tdoc about this? You are probably going to have to go on new protocols in order to remain functional over the next 6 months. I don't think there is anyway I would be able to breezily put this out of my mind, if it were me. But I *could* see things being livable with a tweak to my anti-anxiety meds, and how to recognize new situations that are triggering

 

I think the collective research on cell-phones and cancer is all over the place, and there is no clear answer one way or the other. Life is full of risks. People ate and drank from pewter for 100s of years. An entirely safe environment isn't possible.

 

Do you carry a messenger bag, or something, that you could get a phone pocket to velcro on (Am I making sense)? I always carry a hand bag or a messenger bag, so I don't have my phone pressed against my body. I AM NOT trying to scare you, just suggests alternatives if that is something that is worrying you. DH carries his in his front pant pocket.

 

Look at it this way: if something is wrong, they caught it as early as  they possibly could, thank god you needed that MRI for something else. I am pretty sure there is a protocol: "If you see x, patient comes back in 3 months, if you see y, patient comes back in 6 months.

 

It's just pretty major surgery to go digging around in your lung for something that may not even be important. You don't want the treatment to be worse than the cure.

 

But really, get in touch with your pdoc and tdoc ASAP.

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But despite that, I just have a bad feeling that I do have lung cancer....

... I'm going to be so anxious about this the next 6 months :(

 

Logic isn't something with much leverage here, I fully realise, but sometimes it can help a little.

 

Consider: compared to how you were two weeks ago, your state or condition has actually improved significantly.

The scan did not put the nodule there.  It was there, undetected, previously.  Not non-existent.

Now instead of something (insignificant, minor or major) going on undetected, you are in the much better situation of it being known about and under investigation, with the prospect of remedial action being taken if necessary.

That's a massive step up, not a sudden worsening,

though it doesn't often feel like that at first impact, as the change of status as against how you thought you were tends to hit harder.

 

"We're on to it." I'd suggest, is the positive thought,

The little whatever-it-is is no longer getting away with hiding undetected.

 

Just my thought,

Chris.

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They want to follow up and do another scan in 6 months to see if the nodule has grown. I'm going to be so anxious about this the next 6 months :(

 

I'm sorry you're having to go through all this.  One important thing to keep in mind is that if they thought it was very serious, they wouldn't wait for six months, but would immediately schedule you for other tests, like a biopsy.  I know that's not much comfort, but your medical team and the radiologist that reviewed your CT results have a lot of experience and are well trained to spot serious issues.  As Emmettman pointed out, the good news is that there is no longer an undetected area in your lung, but it's being closely monitored.

 

I also realize the waiting is excruciating as I have had a couple of cancer scares in the last few years.  I had a plain Jane screening colonoscopy, and based on an area they tested, I had to go back in six months for a second look, and thankfully nothing else showed up.  For about six months this past year, I had some very suspicious female issues, all of which also turned out okay.  But waiting on test results, and waiting to see if things progress any, is a terrible feeling.  I don't have any good advice other than to keep busy doing other things as much as possible, and try not to spend hours every day on the internet diagnosing yourself.

 

And for what it's worth, my elderly cat was diagnosed with a lung tumor, which was seen during an old kitty wellness visit.  As far as I know he was never a smoker, but who knows what they get up to when they're outside!  :)   They removed part of his left lung over two years ago, and he's been fine ever since.  I take him every few months for xrays, but so far so good.  He will turn 17 in July, which is fairly ancient for a cat. 

 

I think crtclms has the best advice, to make a crisis visit with your pdoc and tdoc, as this will definitely play on your mind.  Although my pdoc didn't change my meds, he was aware of the situations I was going through and it felt good to know he was there if I needed him.

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I'm sorry you're going through this.

They want to do a scan in 6 months - that's a good thing! 6 months, they aren't terribly concerned. If there's no change, they'll do it in a year. If they were concerned, they would have immediately done an MRI, or another scan.

 

My grandpa had a spot on his lung for 15 years (probably longer, he hadn't had a scan before for a loooong time), the size of a quarter, it never changed. It never bothered him, he died from completely unrelated causes after surgery, at 81. 

 

The only change was when they had the x-ray backwards and said the spot disappeared and reappeared on the opposite lung! *facepalm*

 

crtclms has the best advice. Talk it through. It's alarming now, but another scan in 6 months, well, that means it's not that concerning.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm in the same boat Dream Theater....

 

4mm lung nodule too small to determine. Doctor says come back in 6 months for a rescan, 

 

Not easy to swallow...

 

The good news is, however (and I'm no doctor but take it for what it's worth),I have read that with the advancements in medical technology lung nodules are discovered very frequently and mostly they are discovered incidentally - in many cases they amount to nothing. 

 

Even that isn't easy to swallow, either, so I guess the only thing I can say is just try to focus on something else and worry about that when the times comes. I say this because it sure beats spending the next 6 months in your own Hell. Anxiety will get much worse if you are constantly worrying about it, and you could develop serious panic attacks (like I did - and now I have a panic disorder after having spent $5,000 in hospital bills thinking I was dying).

 

Take care.

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  • 5 months later...

I would not wait six months

 

no, I would be more aggressive - whether that means returning to my current providers at three months and requesting new testing

 

or selecting a different facility for a second opinion

 

The original post was from 6 months ago - I had the follow up scan this past week.

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Resurrecting an old thread here, but I wanted to post an update.

This week I had my 6 month follow up scan. Thankfully, the nodule has remained unchanged and is "likely benign". It was a huge weight off my chest!

 

Good to hear.

 

I presume that moves into "routine monitoring", now?

That doesn't make things completely worry-free, but you have that back-up in place, with levels of intervention available to dump on the thing if it does dare to move.  It can't quietly creep up on you.   

 

Eat something nice that you shouldn't, just for once.

 

Chris.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm glad there was no change and you're feeling less anxious. That's awesome news!

Treat yourself, like others have said. This is big news.

 

I'm glad you followed up.

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